27th Annual Convention

RegisterBook Hotel

27th Convention Keynote (2024)

Stay tuned for more information on our 2024 keynote speakers and panels!

26th Convention Keynote (2023)

JJJJJerome Ellis

JJJJJerome Ellis

JJJJJerome Ellis is a blk disabled animal, artist, and proud stutterer from Tidewater, Virginia. He prays, reads, gardens, cycles, surfs, and plays. Through music, literature, performance, and video he researches relationships among blackness, disabled speech, divinity, nature, sound, and time. Born in 1989 to Jamaican and Grenadian immigrants, he lives in Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

His diverse body of work includes: contemplative soundscapes using saxophone, flute, dulcimer, electronics, and vocals; scores for plays and podcasts; albums combining spoken word with ambient and jazz textures; theatrical explorations involving live music and storytelling; and music-video-poems that seek to transfigure historical archives.

JJJJJerome collaborates with James Harrison Monaco as James & Jerome. Their recent work explores themes of border crossing and translation through music-driven narratives. They have received commissions from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Ars Nova.

Visit his website to learn more! jjjjjerome.com
Listen to JJJJJerome on This American Life: “Time Bandit”
Watch JJJJJerome’s 1-minute video with SCAD MOA’s Evans Center for African American Studies: “The Clearing”

2023 Convention Panel #1:

Stuttering Advocacy

Advocacy Panel: Helping the World Understand Stuttering

“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” — Dolores Huerta

What does “advocacy” mean to each of us and to the larger stuttering community? What are the myriad possibilities for improving awareness and understanding of stuttering in the world? Meet the panelists who have engaged with stuttering advocacy, and together we’ll explore how doing this work might even bring us closer to making friends with stuttering.


Adannaya Brown

Adannaya Brown (she/her) is a parent of a person who stutters, dedicated advocate, friend, and student of the stuttering community. A relentless chaser of joy, her favorite pastimes are reading, dancing, and staring at the sky. She lives with her husband, four children, and two dogs in Aurora, Colorado.

Watch Adannaya’s eloquent response to the question “How do you want the world to see your son?” How We Want the World to See Us

George Daquila, PhD

George Daquila, PhD has stuttered his whole life. He found the stuttering community later in life at the age of 28, and he loves being part of it and the broader disability community. George is an Engineering Manager at Google, where he is also a member of the disability community and a leader of the stuttering group. George is a fierce advocate for equality of people with disabilities in the workplace. He believes his experiences with stuttering make him a more effective and empathetic manager. George holds a PhD in physics from Virginia Tech.

George shares wisdom on taking small steps towards advocacy: Self-advocacy in the Workplace: 4 Tips with George Daquila

Jenny McGuire

Jenny McGuire is a person who stutters and a vociferous advocate for the stuttering community. She lives in Lafayette, CO with her husband, two daughters, and dog named Pancakes. Jenny is the Executive Director at Myspeech, where they provide scholarships for acceptance-based speech therapy and advocate for the normalization of stuttering through online initiatives.

It is during the past few years that she has come to realize that all of the best and brightest adults in the stuttering community are affiliated with Friends–truly, if you are here with your child who stutters, your family is in GREAT hands. Jenny looks forward to connecting with old friends, meeting new ones, and doing a lot of listening and learning during this year’s convention!

Listen to Jenny talk about practicing “not hiding” to live a fuller life: Jenny McGuire shares her personal story in the MY STUTTER Video Series


Onur Tekiner

John Hendrickson

John Hendrickson is the author of Life on Delay: Making Peace With a Stutter and a staff writer at The Atlantic. He previously wrote and edited for Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The Denver Post. His Atlantic feature “What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say” was named one of the best stories of 2019 by Longform. He lives in New York City with his wife.

In an article for The Atlantic, John asks readers, “Have you ever told someone who stutters to take their time? Next time you see them, ask how take your time feels”: Why I Dread Saying My Own Name


2023 Convention Panel #2:

“I stutter and…”

Intersectionality of stuttering and other identities: How I see myself

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” — Audre Lorde

How does being a person who stutters intersect with our other identities? How are our experiences with stuttering impacted by other aspects of who we are, including our race, gender, sexuality, ability, age, class background, and more? Meet the panelists exploring these questions and how intersectionality affects how we see ourselves.


Derek E. Daniels, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Derek Daniels is an associate professor at Wayne State University. He has presented locally, nationally, and internationally on stuttering. Derek is a person who stutters, and conducts research on psychosocial aspects of stuttering, public perceptions of stuttering, identity, stigma, intersectionality, and culturally responsive practices. He is a native of Houston, TX, and currently enjoys urban life in Detroit. Derek is a former President of the Michigan Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA), and currently serves as MSHA’s Vice-President (VP) for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Read this exploration of intersectionality in Derek’s words: Intersectionality: What intersectionality means and why it’s important for stuttering

Kristel Kubart, M.S., CCC-SLP

Kristel Kubart, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and a passionate person who stutters and who has cerebral palsy. She has been volunteering with FRIENDS for 17 years. She is one of the facilitators of the monthly FRIENDS Virtual Kids Groups. She believes that it is important to ‘show up’ for members of the stuttering community and to live the message that, “It’s ok to stutter.” She is a speech therapist at the American Institute for Stuttering, where she works exclusively with children, teens, and adults who stutter both in person and virtually. She also works as a speech therapist at an elementary school in Brooklyn, NY, where she created a Disability Pride Club. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the College of the Holy Cross and her M.S. in Speech and Language Pathology from Purdue University. She is happily married and lives with her husband Jason and their cat Winnie in Brooklyn, NY.

Learn more about Kristel and her disability activism in this interview with WOW WomanDisability Activist, Speech Therapist, Creator, Adventurer

Jia Bin, M.A.

Jia Bin, M.A., is a doctoral student and research assistant in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University. With undergraduate studies in English Language and Literature in China, she holds two Master’s degrees in Secondary Education and Communicative Sciences and Disorders in the United States. Jia is a global leader in the Chinese stuttering community and actively contributes as a board member of the World Stuttering Network (WSN), a chapter leader of the National Stuttering Association (NSA), and the vice president of the Spartan Stuttering Group. Jia’s contributions and leadership are driven by her personal experience as a person who stutters, aiming to empower and support fellow stutterers worldwide.

Jia shares her experience growing up with limited access to support and community: Stammering is the Superpower to Connect with People

Onur Tekiner

Onur Tekiner

Onur has stuttered since the age of 3. After moving to Chicago to improve his English skills, he read Van Riper’s books which subsequently changed his life. He wanted to challenge himself because he always hid his stuttering from friends and family, so he began voluntarily stuttering with people all over the city. These open conversations with over 200 random individuals helped him realize that stuttering isn’t something to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Onur graduated from the University of Thrace in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Econometrics.

Watch Onur share his life experiences with shame and acceptance: How We Show Up

25th Convention Keynotes (2022)

John Hendrickson

John Hendrickson

John Hendrickson is a senior editor at The Atlantic and a person who stutters. He previously wrote and edited for Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The Denver Post. His Atlantic feature, “What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say,” was named one of the best stories of 2019 by Longform. His first book, Life on Delay: Making Peace With a Stutter, will be published in January 2023. He lives in New York City.

Róisín McManus

Róisín McManus

Róisín McManus is a proud stutterer and has been involved in the stuttering self-help community for over a decade. She led the Brooklyn chapter of the National Stuttering Association, co-hosted the StutterTalk podcast, served on the boards of the Friends and the NSA, and was co-founder of the NYC Stutters conference. In her nursing career, Roisin has advocated for stuttering acceptance in the workplace and worked on the frontlines of the COVID crisis in NYC. She is a nurse practitioner specializing in palliative care and ICU medicine. Róisín, her husband Stavros, and their daughter Clio reside in Providence, RI.

24th Convention Keynote (2021)

23rd Convention Keynotes (2020)

 22nd Convention Keynote (2019)

Rick Arenas' Keynote Speech

Watch Rick Arenas’ keynote address at the 22nd Annual Friends Convention in Rosemont, IL. Rick introduces the idea of the Iceberg Beast.

Author Biography

Rick Arenas is an associate professor at the University of New Mexico. His primary area of research is developmental stuttering. In his early career he focused on the neurobiological mechanisms involved in the variability of stuttering across contexts. Recently his research has transitioned toward the way people relate to their stuttering and how it plays a role in their personal narrative. Using qualitative methods, he is investigating how people who stutter change their thoughts and beliefs to live harmoniously with stuttering.

Michael Boyle's Keynote Speech

The following are excerpts and key points from Michael Boyle’s 2019 Keynote Presentation at the Annual Friends Convention on Saturday July 20th in Rosemont, IL.

The talk was titled “My story of stuttering: Memories, lessons learned, and advice.”

I.   Lessons learned

  • “Success” should not be equated with fluency. Success is doing what you want to do while still stuttering. Or, not having your choices in life dictated by stuttering.
  • Avoid the fallacy of viewing fluency and stuttering as binary choices representing success and failure.
  • “Progress” may actually mean more stuttering. It is difficult if not impossible to go from avoidance to spontaneous fluency. Stuttering needs to be let out in order to know what changes can be made. This process naturally involves seeing/hearing more stuttering.
  • Change is a process that is long term – progress, along with setbacks, are common. Don’t get discouraged with setbacks and think long term.
  • You can accept who you are and strive to make changes at the same time – there is no contradiction between acceptance and change.
  • You can certainly find benefits in the challenge of stuttering if you look hard enough. Instead of asking “why me?”, ask how you can grow from this? How can you use the pain you are experiencing to make you stronger? A better person? If you look for empowering meanings for stuttering, you will find them.
  • You expand your capacities only when you’re challenged. Stuttering may be the resistance you push against to make you stronger.

II.   Advice

  • To the SLPs and graduate students out there: model confronting and dealing with challenges. Go outside the treatment room and stutter, then use a strategy if that’s what you’re working on. It can be hard. Acknowledge the difficulty and do it anyway. A client won’t know how to handle difficulty in real life if they don’t confront what they are scared of. This means YOU need to stutter too. How can they become courageous if you aren’t willing to model courage? Also, understand your individual client. People who stutter are all different. There are times when transformation just requires letting the person know they’ve been heard. They can then open up and often they figure out their own problems.
  • To the parents and family members of kids who stutter: don’t make your love and approval conditional on how fluent your child’s speech is. If all they hear, or most of what they hear from you is that you really want them to use their techniques, or you ask them why they don’t use them, they can get the sense that they aren’t good enough if they don’t do those things. Letting them know they are loved just as they are is very powerful. The starting point is to appreciate them and what they have to say regardless of stuttering. You will support them regardless. It is incredibly difficult to communicate as a PWS. Just doing it is incredibly courageous. Appreciate and acknowledge that for your child who stutters.
  • To PWS: Don’t wait until you’re totally fluent to start living the life you want to live. Also don’t wait until you’re totally okay with stuttering to live the life you want to live. Avoid the extremes in terms of expecting total fluency, or total acceptance as the ultimate goal. Be forgiving of yourself – stuttering can be a very difficult condition to live with. Be forgiving of yourself if you’re struggling to speak. Be forgiving of yourself if you avoid sounds or words and feel good about it. It’s a very difficult and complicated problem. Aim to be courageous. Acknowledge the difficulty and talk anyway.

Author Biography

Michael P. Boyle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Montclair State University. He teaches graduate courses in stuttering and research methods, in addition to mentoring student research in the department’s M.S. and Ph.D. programs. Dr. Boyle has received awards for his teaching and research from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the National Stuttering Association (NSA). He is an active researcher who has published over 25 scientific articles and book chapters in the area of stuttering. Dr. Boyle received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in communication sciences and disorders from Penn State University.

Skip to content